Parishioners 90+ Honored for Being ‘Notable’
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 28, 2022
MCHENRY—“Notable in their 90s” parishioners were honored on Oct. 23 at St. Mary Parish, here.
The idea to recognize the faith and accomplishments of those older parishioners came to Kathy Godlewski after morning Mass one day when she saw Bernice Diedrich, 94, standing by her car in the parking lot and looking up at the church.
“The look on her face was just pure love for the church,” Godlewski says. “When she saw me, she said, ‘I was baptized in that church.’”
The beauty of that moment of faith and of those parishioners who embody “God’s pure wonder and awe,” prompted Godlewski to enlist the help of Celeste Mann, St. Mary music director, to plan a way to honor their 90+ years-old parishioners. “They have the values and perseverance and faith that never wavers,” Godlewski says.
St. Mary Parish Council and others agreed, Mann says, and the date was set. 
“Parish organizations have banded together to set up a tent, table and chairs,” Mann said a couple of days before the event. “Super cooks will bake. Others will purchase, decorate, plate and serve … special care has been given to the comfort and safety of the entire ‘Notable in Their 90s’ participants, including a heater for the tent.”
Although not all of the 22 Notables who planned to attend were able to make it, several came to the 10 a.m. Mass, most with family members willing to say a few words to honor their nonagenarian.
After the recessional, Mann served as master of ceremonies. Armed with a microphone, she traveled among the pews soliciting comments about the honorees. Comments from adult children, friends and admirers included:
She is “welcoming, charitable, clean, tenacious, a competitive card player and great homemaker …”
“She never retired (from parish kitchen work), a dedicated hard worker, and now I call her ‘friend’…”
“… many organizational skills, modeled for us care for others and also has shared her faith with us …”
“… cared for everyone … always shares everything with others …”
“… a laundry list of accomplishments …”
“… the lifelong lesson for me: whatever I do, give it my all and do it right …”
“… gracious, loving, caring, humble (and) always thinks of others first …”
“(she) taught us love is unconditional …”
Bea Meath, who turns 100 the day after Christmas this year, was described by her son as heading into the sunroom first thing each day “and starts counting those beads … thank you for the faith you have instilled in me.”
One family that is new to the parish noted the welcome they received from a nonagenarian. 
Mann piped up about a couple of other nonagenarians whose family was tongue-tied when it came to speaking, calling them anchors of the parish as well as nurturers. 
Speaking of one who was “not up to coming” that day, Mann noted she “put a lot of her life” into the parish garden.
The son of one nonagenarian credited all of them for their resiliency and never-ending faith through the Great Depression, World War II, with children in the Korean and Vietnam wars and grandchildren serving in other conflicts, concluding, “You are the greatest generation.”
Father David Austin, pastor, concluded the in-church part of the celebration with the thought that “age is a number, (but) it’s the heart and the spirit” that matter.
He noted the repetition of several words to describe the nonagenarians, including their faith, love and generosity and, he added, “most especially the strength of your spirit … God’s Spirit.”
Whether it is 92 minutes or 92 months or 92 years that is celebrated, they and everyone can “allow the Spirit of our living God to shine out,” he said. 
A buffet of breakfast casseroles, fruits and other treats were served outside with seating under a tent and picture-perfect temperatures and sunshine, all of it rounding out a lovely tribute for parish “Notables in their 90s.”
Shop Religious items at HOLYART.COM